Are you looking forward to 2017? Well don’t. Instead, start the New Year by looking back. As Steve Jobs shrewdly observed, “Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do."

Back to the future marketing

I know it seems a tad gloomy to dwell on the past when a shiny new year beckons. Yet mulling over the highs and lows of last year’s marketing means you plan from a position of strength, discard the sub-standard and kick-start your salon to profit.

In this ‘Top Tips’ article I’ll share the questions I ask each New Year, give you a quick-fire Marketing Tool Checklist and my Marketing Plan guide download.

Marketing your salon

Looking back...

What worked and what didn’t. Which goals were met, which fell by the wayside, and why?
Break the task into these four bite-sized chunks to make it more manageable:

1. Polish your salon marketing toolkit

First assess each marketing tool and activity. Is it earning its keep? Does it need some spit and polish?

Pressed for time? Use this speedy evaluation checklist, print it off, score your marketing toolkit and then see my feedback on the second page.

You’re not finished yet. For a fresh perspective, invite key team members to score your salon and see how effective they feel your current marketing is.

2. Beat the local competition

You’re not promoting your salon in a bubble. There will always be local competition.

Of course, you don’t want to be obsessed with competitors. Yet if you want to outshine them this coming year you need to know what makes their marketing tick. Again, use my Marketing Tool Checklist and benchmark their score against yours. For the full picture I’d add in a comparative pricing exercise too.

Are you missing a trick? Don’t just research the good old local favourites. Has a new salon set up or an owner’s circumstances changed? Could this open up new opportunities or threats to your business?

3. Give your profit a head start

Didn’t hit all your financial targets last year? You’re not alone. 60% of business owners/managers identified ‘making a profit’ as their key business issue in a recent survey by the NHF and Hairdressers’ Journal.

Quiz yourself on these five financial marketing areas from last year if you want to boost profits this coming year.

  • Too much focus on your least profitable services?
  • Is your Price List too low?
  • Are you losing too many loyal clients?
  • Did your marketing attract enough new clients?
  • Offering too many salon discounts?

Remember Steve Jobs’ advice: “Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do.” Hindsight is a wonderful marketing tool.

4. Marketing begins with your clients’ salon experience

This quote, from marketing genius Seth Godin, sums it up for me:

“Everything we do is marketing – the name of things, the price of things, the way you answer the phones and the way you dress, the way the thing works. You’re judged on these things… “

We all recognise that the client experience has a huge impact on customer loyalty. Delighted clients re-book, recommend you and are easier to up-sell to. They are more profitable for less effort.

So, before finalising your 2017 marketing activities take time to discover what clients truly think of your salon experience. It may be in need of some fine-tuning.

Five ways to find out: 

  • Try a client questionnaire. Keep the questions short and simple. Run it for about 8 weeks and don’t stand over clients while they complete it. You want honest feedback after all.
  • Do you formally log complaints in salon? A ‘Grumbles Log’ is a useful marketing tool for assessing your vulnerable points.
  • Check out Google and other online review directories to uncover what clients say about their salon experience.
  • Spend 20 minutes scrolling back through your social media for customer reactions and pointers.
  • You gauged your kerb appeal earlier with my evaluation Checklist. Go a step further. Discreetly follow a client’s journey around your salon. Do your team use their name? Offer them a drink promptly? Is your salon spotless – always? Your magazine choice current or dog-eared? 

Right, having reflected on the last 12 months you should have a better understanding of the gaps in your business. Now move on to the next step.

Looking forward... to a flying start

Crave new clients? Long to be the best in town? Determined to increase your profits this year? Then you have to make marketing your number one priority.

Get your salon off to a flying start this year with this two step approach:

Step One:  With the benefit of hindsight you can now prepare your 12 month Marketing Plan. Members will find a free detailed guide here.

Step Two:  Now kick-start your day-to-day marketing implementation with these five hands-on ideas: 

  • Create a simple weekly actions’ calendar. You’ll find a template with the Marketing Plan Guide I just mentioned.
  • Resolve to measure your promotional activity on a weekly/monthly basis and per campaign.
  • Develop a basic budget tracking sheet to make sure you stay on plan. Facebook, Adwords and local media advertising can soon add up.
  • Block out time each week to focus on marketing your salon. If you don’t it’ll slip to the bottom of the list again.
  • Finally, every couple of months step back and take a long hard look at your marketing activities through the eyes of your clients. Tweak. Get back on track. And you’ll see your salon business grow.

And now you can look forward to a successful 2017. 

Alice Kirby, Lockhart Meyer Salon Marketing